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Western Caribbean Cruise - Day Two

Day One - Cocoa Beach Day Six - Costa Maya
Day Two - Port Canaveral Day Seven - At Sea
Day Three - At Sea Day Eight - Bahamas
Day Four - Cozumel Day Nine - Port Canaveral
Day Five - Belize

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Apparently the walls in the hotel were on the thin side – we were awoken fairly early by the kids next door, who were also running on the balcony. We got up and walked a few blocks to the IHOP for breakfast. We walked back to the hotel, packed up our things, and checked out. We put our luggage with that of our family and hung out by the pool while we were waiting for our noon shuttle to the cruise ship terminal. It was a beautiful day and it was nice being able to sit poolside in the warm Florida sun. Fawlty Towers was a decent place to stay for a night or two or three, as bookends to a cruise (apparently that is where they get a lot of their business). It’s not a luxurious high-rise resort, but the prices are good, the rooms are clean, the courtyard is nice, and the people are friendly.

We had a different experience with the Cocoa Beach Shuttle on this day – a very friendly woman showed up on time and got us over to the terminal quickly. She was warm and witty and apparently knew everyone at the cruise ship terminal, and she instructed us where to go when we returned a week later.

We had booked a suite on the Carnival Glory so we were VIPs and were able to speed through the embarkation process. (The remainder of our family was occupying 4 cabins on a lower level.) It has been 20 years since either of us cruised and the experience was vastly different. The terminal was sleek and modern and air conditioned and embarkation appeared to be very efficient, even for those who were not VIPs. We were ushered into a waiting area and given seats while we awaited our turn. Then we gave our credit card and each received our card, which served not only as a charge card for things purchased on the ship but also as the key card to our room. We were on the ship quickly. The hostesses in the terminal were very friendly and professional. We did say we know where all the little old ladies in the area are – in the Carnival cruise ship terminal!

We were escorted onto the ship with our carry-on luggage into the lobby and sort of dropped off. Since neither of us had cruised in a very long time, we had no idea what to do next, so Keith asked a Carnival employee. He simply told us we could go up to the Lido Deck (9) and have something to eat while we were waiting for our room, which would be ready around 1:30 p.m. The lobby area (deck 3) was nuts – people seemed delirious, so we went up to deck 9. It was pretty much pandemonium there too. Free glasses of champagne were being distributed and we got some of that. We found a table in a covered area near the main pool and hot tubs and sat down. We ordered a bucket of Coronas (4, which were served in plastic cups with limes). Lori inspected the buffet and came back with a couple hot dogs to hold us over. We observed it was smoky. We didn’t initially realize that the starboard (right) side of the ship had designated smoking areas, while the leeward (left) side of the ship was non-smoking.

After lots of people-watching (children clearly high on sugar were bellyflopping into the pool fully clothed) we went down to our room and were able to get in. Our bags hadn’t yet been delivered but we had enough in our carry-ons to tide us over. We put on bathing suits, SPF, and cover-ups and headed up to deck 9. On Carnival’s website we had discovered there was an adults-only area called Serenity – supposedly there were two hot tubs and lounges. That’s what we were seeking but never found it – we did find the Azure pool area aft (at the back of the ship), with a bar off to one side and two elevated hot tubs. There were kids everywhere, including in the hot tubs (which said no kids under the age of 13). We asked the bartender if this was the adults-only area and he shrugged and said, “With so many kids on the cruise this week, it’s tough to enforce.” We were a bit disappointed with that, especially in light of the fact there were plenty of pool areas for the kids, including a water slide (not to mention children’s activities). Once we got home, we looked again, and it turns out the Serenity area was not on the Glory – bummer! The website is fairly misleading, as we talked to several people who expected to find a retreat away from all the kids. Oh, by the way, since this was a cruise over the holidays, there were 3,000 guests and 600 of those were kids. Yikes!

We hung out by the pool and hot tubs and had some wine. In the late afternoon we went back to our suite and were happy to see our bags had been delivered. We proceeded to unpack. Our suite was very nice and bigger than we expected. There was a comfy-looking king size bed with bedside tables on either side. Funky little glass lamps were on each bedside table – one night Keith woke up and thought a gnome was taking a leak on him (that’s how funky these lights were).
Opposite the bed was a chair, table and couch along the wall (which looked like a day bed). Under the day bed were storage drawers that had blankets and pillows. The bed was elevated enough so that we could fit our bags underneath once we’d unpacked. There were plenty of drawers and closet space to accommodate our things.
Next to the couch was a desk area, with a fridge/mini-bar underneath. We had to ask the room steward to unlock it. It contained splits of wine and champagne, beer, airplane size bottles of hard liquor, and soft drinks and water. Of course anything consumed was billed to our folio. There were plenty of different types of glassware supplied. The room had a safe that was just big enough to hold everything we wanted to lock up. There was a TV that swiveled so you could view it from the couch or the bed. We were actually surprised by the number of channels we got.
When you entered the room, immediately to the left was a doorway that led into the vanity area. There was a chair there and a hairdryer and drawers. Opposite the vanity were closets and one contained shelves. Beyond the vanity and a step up was the bathroom itself which was very nice. It was marble and had double sinks and little shelves to store our toiletries. There was a single Jacuzzi tub with glass doors and a shower that could also be hand-held. It was always stocked with plenty of towels. Shampoo and shower soap dispensers were in the tub area. Marble surfaces were on every table, counter, shelf, and desk, and even the bathroom floor, and there was also beautiful wood.
The piece de resistance was the balcony – there was a door out to the balcony as well as two windows. The balcony had plenty of space, with three deck chairs and a table. We spent quite a bit of time on the balcony, including watching as we pulled away from Port Canaveral. The accommodations were nicer and larger than expected and we felt we got what we paid for. If you can afford it, definitely go for a balcony. You don’t have to book a suite – there are also state rooms with a balcony.

We cleaned up and got ready for dinner. The Glory has two seatings, at 6 and 8:15 p.m., and we were at the first seating. There were 13 of us altogether, and we had 3 tables that were next to each other. We ate in the golden dining room on the lower level. There are two levels to this dining area. Unfortunately we were in an area where we couldn’t see a lot – actually, considering we weren’t very appreciative of the singing waiter shows, perhaps it was fortunate.

The first night’s food selections were OK but didn’t “wow” us. Of course, if you want two appetizers, you can have them. Same for anything else on the menu. We were trying not to gorge ourselves so we didn’t really avail ourselves too often when it came to doubling up (although Lori didn’t mind doubling up on shrimp cocktail). As the week progressed, we liked our head waiter, but the sommelier really wasn’t much of a presence so we generally ended up ordering wine from the head waiter instead.

After dinner, we set off in search of the karaoke bar, which was located aft on deck 5 in the Ebony Café. The karaoke hostess was British and was quite a card. There were sumptuous circular banquettes in this lounge. We spent a couple hours warbling away to our hearts content, enjoying the smoke-free lounge.

Each night our room attendant, Suzanne, created a unique sculpture out of towels. This is our first night's towel animal.

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